Install and Test Lead-Filtering Water Fountains in Jersey City Public Schools

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Harshal Agrawal
Harshal Agrawal signed this petition

This petition is asking the Jersey City Board Of Education (JCBOE) to conduct a pilot study of lead filters on water fountains at MAHS and conduct testing of these water fountains post-filter installation in accordance with state procedures to get them approved for drinking use. 

Hello, my name is Harshal Agrawal and I've been attending Jersey City Public Schools (JCPS) ever since 1st grade. I started off at Mahatma K. Gandhi School  (P.S. 23), then went to the Jonathan W. Wakeman School (P.S. 6), followed by Academy 1 Middle School, and am now currently a senior at Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School. At every JCPS school that I've attended, all water fountains have been shut off for drinking use due to lead contamination; in fact, this was my first lesson in PS 23: "DO NOT DRINK FROM THE WATER FOUNTAINS." 

Most Jersey City Public Schools have similar problems with lead contamination and as a solution, the JCBOE put water coolers in each of these schools and ships in 5 gallon water jug replacements frequently from a company in Birdsboro, PA (over 110 miles away) at $3.75 per bottle [1].

This is neither environmentally nor economically sustainable. Trash cans throughout schools citywide are filled to the brim with single-use, non-recycled plastic cups. Numerous gallons of fuel are consumed annually for the transportation of water jug replacements. Students tend to bring plastic bottled water to school because they are not allowed to refill their water bottles, thus producing more non-recycled plastic garbage. Worst of all, schools often just simply run out of water jug replacements and students have to spend the entire day without drinking water. It's very hard for students to focus in classes on such days without having any water to rehydrate, especially after coming back from phys ed. Lastly, instructional time is also wasted on these days as "search parties" of students navigate the halls, going from floor to floor in search of non-empty water coolers. 

I understand that replacing all the lead-soldered water pipes is not a feasible option, but there are numerous commercially available water filters that can be installed on existing water fountains to bring lead within safe-to-consume levels. Using McNair HS as case study, attached below is a document that lists the results of water testing conducted throughout Jersey City in Sept. 2014 [2]. The results of the study suggest that "filters be replaced" at McNair HS. Additionally, a more recent water testing study conducted at McNair HS and sanctioned by the JCBOE found that the lead levels at a lot of water fountains throughout MAHS are not drastically higher than EPA acceptable levels (<15 ppb) [3]. By attaching such water filters to these fountains, it is very likely that their lead levels could be brought to within safe levels. Once installed, these filters, which cost $80, last for up to two years and require little to no maintenance [4].

In the long run, these filters provide a cheaper and greener alternative to constantly refilling water coolers with replacement jugs. Please sign this petition if you want working water fountains again in Jersey City Public Schools!

In addition to signing this petition, please also consider coming to the board meeting at Snyder HS on Thursday, September 27th at 6 PM and showing your support. If you would be interested in coming up with me to speak about this topic at the board meeting, please reach out to me at